Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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Watership Down: Chapter 42 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dandelion finishes his story and heads up above ground to relieve Acorn from his sentry post. Hazel and Bigwig go with him, and on the way, they run into the mouse Hazel saved long ago. The mouse, in its broken Lapine, says something about “a new a rabbits a come, soon is another warren a more.” Hazel asks the mouse what he means, and the mouse quickly begins backpedaling, stating that there are “no other rabbits” around. Hazel gets close to the mouse and tells him not to be afraid and urges him to tell him the truth about whether there are any other rabbits around. The mouse confesses that his brother saw “plenty, plenty rabbits” coming over the hills the other day.
The mouse Hazel saved once again proves himself useful as he warns Hazel of a group of rabbits stationed not too far off from Watership Down.
Themes
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Bigwig dismisses the mouse’s story, but Hazel is determined to get to the bottom of things. He asks Holly and Blackavar to go down and check things out. Speedwell comes over to excitedly announce that Clover has had a litter of kittens. Bigwig is elated, and he and Hazel begin daydreaming about how large and happy their warren will grow to be. Soon, though, Holly and Blackavar return and give the signal to take cover. Holly begins shouting for the others to fill the holes and get everyone underground—he says there isn’t a moment to lose. The hills are full of Efrafans. Blackavar suggests they all start running, but Hazel is determined to stand and defend his warren. Bigwig says he plans to do the same. Hazel says they should fill in all the holes and wait the Efrafans out, and immediately the whole group gets to work.
This passage shows that birth and happiness will always be side-by-side with danger and fear for the rabbits as long as the Efrafans are their enemies. They will never know any peace while Woundwort lives—and so rather than run in fear and displace his people, Hazel chooses to stay and fight for all he has worked to build.
Themes
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Hazel worries that their warren will not hold against the Efrafan’s attack, and knows that as long as Woundwort is alive, the assaults will not stop coming. He wonders if he himself should go talk to Woundwort and try to get the rabbit to see sense and call off his horde. He decides that the plan is worth a shot and to confront Woundwort alone. He tells Bigwig what he’s up to but springs off down the hill before anyone can stop him.
Despite his outwardly confident show of solidarity, Hazel is inwardly worried that the rabbits won’t be able to defend themselves against the Efrafans a second time. Believing that peace could be possible, Hazel makes a brave but frightening decision to put his life on the line for his warren and confront Woundwort himself.
Themes
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon